Love and miss you all! This has been such a great week! I'm loving it here, and I'm learning so much!
So just some quick updates, I have been getting your packages, and I love them! It's sooooo nice to get anything. Thank you so much for sending my other set of scriptures, I love being able to look back and see what my past studies and notes were. So far, I've re-read and marked 160 pages of scripture from my English ones to my Spanish ones. Any form of letter or contact is incredible. My district checks the mail every day after lunch and dinner, its seriously gold. So if you're reading this now ...send me a letter/dearelder/anything ...like right NOW! It seriously is sooo nice to have something! I never thought I would crave contact with the outside world so much. It's so incredible to hear from people.
My Spanish is coming along well. I know most of the church-like vocabulary now, so the lessons go pretty well. I usually just Spanglish parts of sentences if I don't know it all in Spanish. I'm nowhere near fluent, but our class is improving greatly.
There is no news on my visa. Every two weeks, a new set of missionaries comes into our district. Also, the oldest district just left us this Tuesday ...and none of them got their visas. They all went state-side to Pocatello Idaho (bahahahaha), Atlanta Georgia, or Virginia. However, I got my call before any of them, and got my visa paper work in before all of them (thank you, mommy!). We didn't receive any new missionaries though. Our whole residence floor is like empty except for 4 other districts. It's quite weird. Oh, but we also had 3 other Elders join our district, making our total 13! The room is not big enough for us ...but we squish in anyway. I kinda' just crawl and weave around people until I find my 1 by 1 corner seat and slip in.
I've been playing a lot of basketball this week, its super fun ...and I've also played 4 square. Bah! that's actually a super fun game. It gets really competitive. Me and my district created a "recreation league", and so it gets super intense. Oh, bahahahahaha, I met Lori's old boyfriend this week! hahah He was the gym instructor at Gym Time one day! hahah He called on me to say the prayer......meh, I blame Lori.
Random inside joke with my district: Donde está la pavón? ....En la Bolsa. Bbahaha. Apparently, pavóniarse means "to swagger" so we shortened it to be swag. And apparently swag originated from homeless guys's bags that they carried on their sticks as they wondered. Eh, who knew. Hahaha, it's just fun.
Nothing super fun except spiritual stuff happened this week, Which I love and know it's best. But essentially, my whole letter will be about a FEW experiences I've had. There is literally no way to write everything. I can write about 10 pages on just one day.
Do you remember how my district was teaching a progressing investigator named Aldo? Ya, me and my companion were the only ones in our class to commit him to baptism and set a date. BAM!! Mwehahaha. Anyways, now "Aldo" is our teacher!! Our teachers, Hermano Porter and Hermano Miller (Aldo) act as our investigators, and we teach them. They both are incredible teachers, and I love them so much. They love this church. However, they both are on vacation right now. Hermano Porter went to Canada....I know right.....and Hermano Miller wouldn't tell us because he said the world doesn't exist outside of the CCM (MTC). Hahaha, what a joker.
So p-days are like Christmas. It's just sooo relaxing. The temple is closed right now, so instead of "going" there for 4 hours....we sit.....and, you know....sit. But it's a nice change. I usually just study/write because there is nothing to do except sit.... Well I guess I eat some food too. P-days are just a nice break from 12 hour study days.
I learned a lot about teaching today. We were taught this outline for teaching: Saber (know), Sentir (Feel), y Hacer (Do) ...what do our investigators have to know, feel, and do. I also learned that we must plan a lesson around a commitment. Before, we were just rehearsing a lesson and throwing in a commitment at the end. But now, since we know the compromiso (commitment) we want our investigators to make, we plan accordingly. It is so much more powerful and efficient.
Hermano Miller also mentioned something in class that I thought was quite noble and profound. He said that the name of Christ should be inscribed on our hearts. My name tag should only be an outside inscription of an inside commitment. I don't need a name tag to show my dedication to him, for he will be forever inscribed in my character and heart.
So I absolutely love STUDYING the scriptures. And studying them in Spanish really forces me to read, understand, and internalize them. In English, I usually just read and understand the obvious concepts. But it Spanish, I actually internalize the principals, and I uncover many many many many different ones. You really should see my scriptures, I've marked so many and written so many notes in them. They come so in handy during lessons because I have little reminders about what this scripture can mean and etc.
I read many chapters this week. But my favorites were 2 Nephi 4, Enos 1, and D&C 3. Gah! Sooo good! Nephi is talking about his faults and all the guilt he feels, and how (in comparison to God) we, man, are nothing. But then he essentially bursts with joy -- not happiness, but Joy -- because of our Savior. Through God we can repent of our sins and forsake the awful Chains of Hell. Through Christ, the conqueror of Death, we can overcome our sins and rejoice in the Goodness that is our God.
We all know the story of Enos. But this week I felt the story. I really dug into what he meant by faith. He mentioned faith constantly. He prayed all day, constantly having faith that God would answer. And his simple desire was to have a record kept. God promised Enos that as men have faith, and pray and ask with faith, that He WILL answer them. God desires to help us, but we must first show our desire to Him and ask in faith. Enos was a great example of showing action before he expected a prayer. What a man.
I also love D&C 3. This is where the Lord is chastising Joseph Smith for (hopefully I'll translate this right) "trusting in your own judgment and boasting in your own wisdom" (verse 13...?). That gives me great hope. Our prophet, Joseph Smith, was imperfect; even he made mistakes. But he also was one of the holiest men on the earth. So I must not be weighed down by my mistakes, faults, and sins; but realize that it's human. I must do simply as Nephi instructs and forsake them. Even the prophet had to repent. However, that should really make us think about ourselves. If Joseph Smith had to repent, how much greater do we need to. Perfection is only found after trial. Just as a diamond comes out of coal.
And the devotional last night was incredible ...the son of Gordon B. Hinckley (Richard G. Hinckley) spoke. He talked about the power of our calling. It was so amazing. I'll sum up what he said and liken it unto myself. So here ya go: What ever I want, what ever I desire, I must "pay the price, follow the spirit, and I will have it." ...and that "it" is the Love of God. The only real suffering I can feel is that of regret. I must be BOLD, but not overbearing. I must be tough and endure hardships, but submissive enough to easily be entreated. I must stir up the gift which is inside me, which is God's spirit of power. I must leave the world behind, for "I have been chosen as a soldier for His cause." I promise to fight and serve him with everything I have, so I will never have regrets, for this is my duty. "This work is for the glory of God and no one else." I loved his talk. I especially love the scripture about being a soldier for God. It really brought to light the seriousness of this work. We are daily fighting a battle with Satan to recover our Heavenly Father's children. We aren't just fighting for life or death, but quite literally for their exaltation. I've been honored enough to be chosen as his little soldier. It's my duty and privilege to fight on the side of God.
I know this church is true, and I'm incredibly happy to serve.
Love and miss you all!
Elder Travis Clemons